You are here

How often

Level: beginner

The commonest adverbials of frequency are:

always never normally
rarely seldom sometimes
occasionally often usually

We usually put these one-word adverbials of frequency in front of the main verb:

We often spend Christmas with friends.
I have never enjoyed myself so much.

but they usually come after the verb be:

He was always tired in the evening.
We are never late for work.

Sometimes these adverbials have an intensifier or mitigator:

He is very rarely late for work.
We nearly always spend Christmas with friends.

We use the adverbial a lot to mean often or frequently. It comes at the end of the clause:

We go to the cinema a lot.

We can also use a lot with another time adverbial:

We go to the cinema a lot at the weekend.

We use much/a lot with a negative to mean not often:

We don't go out much/a lot. (= We don't go out often.)

How often 1


We often use phrases with every as adverbials of frequency. We use every with words like minute, hour, day, week, month and year:

There is a big celebration every year.
We have a meeting twice every week.
I usually go home once every two months.
There is a leap year every four years.

We also use every with days of the week and months of the year:

We have a meeting every Monday.
We go on holiday every August.

We use the phrase every other:

We will email you every other day. (= on alternate days)
We go to see my mother every other week. (= in alternate weeks)

We use phrases with once, twice, three times, four times, etc. and a period of time:

I go swimming twice a week.
I see my old school friends four or five times a year.

How often 2


We use how often and ever to ask questions about frequency. how often comes at the beginning of the clause:

How often do you go to the cinema?
How often have you been here?

ever comes before the main verb:

Do you ever go to the cinema at the weekend?
Have you ever been there?


Hi Ananth Krishna,

Yes, that is incorrect. In British English we say 'at the weekend'. I believe in American English it is usual to say 'on the weekend'.

For more information on prepositions used in time expressions take a look at these pages:




Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

can i say i have been to the supermarket three times a week

Hello nancy,

I have already discussed this in an answer to your question in another thread. It is not a natural sentence without any kind of time reference. If we use the present perfect without any time reference then it is taken to mean 'in my life', and no-one would talk about going to the supermarket three times a week as a life event. First of all, 'three times a week' does not make sense in the context of 'in my life'. If you wish to talk about a repeated activity in this way then you need to add something:

I have always gone to the supermarket three times a week.

I have been to the supermarket three times a week since I was a small child.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

thank you for your patience

second question: He is usually very punctual. very modifies punctual. can it also modify usually?
For example, He is very usually punctual. if not, kindly tell me the reason.

Hello grammar2015,

In theory 'very', an adverb, can modify 'usually', also an adverb, but in practice I don't think anyone would say this – people would probably say 'often' or 'normally' or some other adverb of frequency.

Could you please wait a bit before asking us any more questions? We get dozens of questions every day and do our best to answer them, but I'm afraid that getting even just one every day from the same person – not to mention four – is more than we can manage.

Thanks for your contribution.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! When I ask this question: "How often do you exercise?" must the answer be always this?: "I exercise every day" or is it possible also to answer: "I sometimes exercise", using an adverb of frequency as well.


Hi tsm,

Yes, you can answer with an adverb of frequency such as 'sometimes' or any sort of relevant phrase.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi tsm,

I see. I hadn't understood this was what you were asking, so I just want to add that what your book says is true in most cases, i.e. a question with 'how often' is most often answered with a time expression. But it is possible to answer differently, e.g. with an adverb of frequency; for an exam in an English class, though, I'd recommend you answer as your book says.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone, I have to explain the error in this sentence:

We should practic(ing) english very often.

How do I explain the error in simple words?